Haven’t we all held a wish at one time or another that the person who hurt us — as he did with that cruel remark or angry action — could know what we felt in that moment of their thoughtlessness? Somehow we just know that if this person could be present in our aching heart he would be more than just “sorry” because he would share our sorrow; and that out of this new order of relationship he could never and would never act so carelessly again.
Yet, for all of this higher self-understanding we think others should possess, we often fail to see our own spiritual poverty — how when we hurt someone with our own callous behavior we are unable to remember how much it hurt us to be on the receiving end of such scalding remarks.
Where is this compassionate understanding when we really need it? How do we forget so quickly to be the kind of person we blame others for not being when they turn on us? To reveal the true nature of this sudden form of spiritual amnesia requires some soul searching of a kind. We must try to see, through our mind’s eye, the workings of our own psychology in these moments where someone hurts us. To begin with, let’s collect a few honest facts about what is taking place on our side of the duel that characterizes any unpleasant encounter with someone else.
First we need to acknowledge that when someone acts thoughtlessly towards us, it is a similar thoughtlessness in us that responds. In other words, our own hostile reactions take no thought for anything outside of what they call into account for their suddenly heated existence — so that the only awareness we possess in these times is that low level of cognizance that possesses us, making us “entitled” to attack back! And with our own aching heart or pounding thoughts providing the fuel, we lash out! After all, it is our “right” to set the record straight.
But in these moments, if we could learn to step back from ourselves — to see and to be aware of ourselves as being but a cog in this ever-turning wheel of hurting and being hurt — there would follow a great and liberating self-revelation. We would see, clearly, that before we rise up and attempt to hurt someone who has hurt us, it is we who hold this hurt first. And if we realize the dynamic exposed here — how one hurt always gives rise to another one — then we should also be able to see that each of us is always the first to hold this unwanted pain.
Once we come aware to the fact that when we hate, we feel this hatred first in ourselves, our relationship with this darkness is done. The whole issue becomes as simple as this:
To hold a wish to punish someone begins with the unconscious embrace of the very pain we wish to inflict. And with every pain the reactionary self hurls back at its adversary, all it does is condemn itself to continue cycling through the level of ignorance that produces this pain to begin with. So, with each blow this unconscious nature delivers, it just creates for itself the need for the next set of blows.
Let it stop now. From this moment forward, let it stop with you. Make it your intention to forever quit yourself from the turning of this invisible wheel-of-woe.
Each time we will consciously refuse to strike back in anger or act out some aggression toward the one who hurts us, we sow the seed of a new order of a conscious life. Now instead of being used by dark forces that grow at the expense of our soul’s development, it is we who use our endless differences with others to grow endlessly. And at the same time that we learn to rise above the pain of our own negative reactions, we create the possibility and opportunity for others around us to do the same.
Guy Finley is the acclaimed author of more than 35 books and audio programs on the subject of self-realization, several of which have become international best sellers. His popular works, published in 17 languages, are widely endorsed by doctors, professionals, and religious leaders of all denominations. Among many others, his popular titles include: The Secret of Letting Go, Design Your Destiny, The Lost Secrets of Prayer, Apprentice of the Heart, and Let Go and Live in the Now. Finley is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in Southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. Visit www.guyfinley.org for a wealth of free helpful information, free audio and video downloads, and to request your free Self-Improvement Starter Kit.